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Detective: Norcross hotel killing was accidental

LAWRENCEVILLE - An Atlanta teen accidentally shot and killed a Norcross hotel patron during a fumbled robbery attempt last month, a detective testified Thursday.

Police say Casey Jerome Bunting, 17, shot Robert W. Montgomery, 48, of Ohio, on Sept. 17 at the Allaround Suites, an extended stay hotel on Medlock Bridge Road.

A witness near the hotel that evening told police Bunting admitted "he made a mistake" when he "shot the old man," testified Norcross police Sgt. Keith Dampier during a probable cause hearing.

"He did it by accident," Dampier said.

On the night he died, Montgomery was watching television in room 132 with a friend, drinking beers with the door cracked open, when three black men burst in the room, their faces shrouded by bandannas. The assailants punched both men in the face. Seconds later, a gun went off, and all three fled, Dampier said.

The second victim, who wasn't seriously injured, told police he recognized Bunting immediately as a former hotel guest who frequented the property daily, Dampier said. He was the only robber carrying a gun, the witness told police.

Montgomery was shot once in the neck with a .40 caliber handgun, and the bullet "traveled down his artery," Dampier said. The victim later died at Gwinnett Medical Center in Duluth.

Bunting fled the area following the shooting without snatching money or possessions belonging to either man, the detective said.

Police found a crack pipe in Montgomery's room but no drugs or money, Dampier said.

Bunting turned himself in to police last week after warrants were issued for his arrest. He was mum during a police interrogation, never admitting to his involvement or denying it, Dampier said. He's charged with felony murder, aggravated assault and criminal attempt to commit a crime.

Police are unsure why Montgomery was staying in Norcross, but they suspect he'd resided at the hotel for a while. He died before he could provide police with a statement.

Dampier said an informant led police to another potential witness, a man who claimed he'd bought a box of .40 caliber shells for Bunting a few days prior to the shooting.

The other two assailants remain at large, Dampier said. They're described as black men, about 20 years old, who wore dark clothing.

A Gwinnett Magistrate Court judge bound all charges against Bunting to Superior Court. He remains in jail without bond.

Bunting blew a kiss to family members seated in the gallery as a deputy led him back toward his cell.